United Autosport’s Luke Hines says that he has ‘unfinished business’ in the BTCC, after qualifying in 26th position in his first qualifying session in the series in eight years.
Hines’ first few sessions in his return to the championship were not straightforward, however. The 32-year-old used old tyres in first practice on his way to 25th and then completed few flying laps in second practice, giving him little preparation for qualifying.
“I’m a bit disappointed,” said Hines to TouringCars.Net after qualifying in 26th. “The problem is I’m trying to get used to the new tyres, and the engine cut out in that session – it stopped, but I managed to get it all restarted. That took a bit of time. There’s something wrong with the throttle system and it keeps cutting out.
“[In qualifying] I picked up a puncture on the first run – Newsham went off and put a load of debris on the track, so I picked up a puncture which didn’t help. Then I got a lap disallowed as well.
“On the data there was a possible 59.3 or a 59.4, which to be honest I would have been happy about. The grid is pretty tight actually and I’m a bit disappointed because we were on the back foot. In the second session we didn’t do many laps and in the first session I just used old tyres, and then we were straight into qualifying.”
Hines, who has been racing in the American Le Mans Series and even the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race since his last BTCC appearance, as well as the British GT Championship, admits that he is enjoying his return to the series in which he won three races between 2004 and 2005.
“I enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it more if I had a better lap time – everyone does – but it’s going to take a little bit more time to get into this car and understand it more.”
“I still think that I’ve got unfinished business and I’ve had some results in the past. I’ve beaten Jason Plato before, I’ve beaten Yvan Muller and James Thompson and people like that before so I’d like to [have a go]. I need to get used to the car this year, get some testing in, and give it a crack.”
Hines added that the series is much more competitive since he last raced in it, with the grid being double the size it was when he last won a race.
“I think there’s new talent there now,” added Hines. “There are some good young drivers that are coming through. The competition is definitely a lot stronger – there’s a lot of young drivers trying to prove themselves and doing a good job of it. It’s going to require some hard work.
“If I can finish and not get involved in any incidents then that’s a good start. If I don’t get knocked off and just take on board all the things I need to work on – the right sort of techniques for this car – and if I can get 20th or something like that then I think that would be a good start.”